Wikileaks 1



Remember Wikileaks? We’ve found it hard to keep up, too. But a cable from the US consulate in Shenyang from early 2010 has a number of interesting insights into the China-DPRK relationship.

An unnamed informant—apparently Chinese—told a US consular official that China-DPRK trade and investment relations are rife with corruption, and at both ends of the deals. The cable details how “princelings” on both sides of the border—the sons and daughters of high-ranking officials—have hijacked a number of aid projects. When Chinese officials hear of an aid proposal, they seek to broker it and steer business to favored companies, lining their pockets along the way. These Chinese brokers scratch the backs of North Korean officials by offering positions to their children in Sino-DPRK joint ventures.

The cable notes that disputes can arise not only between the two countries but between warring factions on the Chinese side. Two Chinese companies--Shandong Guoda Gold Company, Ltd. and Zhejiang-based Wanxiang Group—both received approval for joint venture deals for access to Huishan Copper Mine, which also is believed to be rich in gold, silver and other minerals as well. But both companies wanted sole access, and the informant detailed bribes being paid in order to try to secure Wen Jiabao’s intervention in the case.

The scramble for foreign investment is driven in part by efforts to finance showcase projects in Pyongyang.  The former DPRK Consul General in Shenyang continued to offer mining and fishing rights to Chinese investors—despite opposition within the government to growing North Korean dependence on China--in an effort to fund the construction of 100,000 new apartments in Pyongyang.

Is any of this true? We can’t say, but it was plausible enough to warrant a cable from Shenyang.

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